WASHINGTON — The U.S. Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) today announced the formal launch of the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system, a global classification system for patent documents.
An ambitious harmonization effort, CPC is the product of a joint partnership between the USPTO and the EPO to develop a common, internationally compatible classification system for technical documents used in the patent granting process that incorporates the best classification practices from both offices. It will be used by the USPTO and more than 45 patent offices – a user community totaling more than 20,000 patent examiners – all sharing the same classifications helping to establish the CPC as an international standard.
“Today’s formal launch of CPC is a tremendous accomplishment, representing the collaborative efforts of both offices to create a bilateral classification system that will result in significant benefits to the global innovation community” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. “CPC will foster patent harmonization efforts by enhancing our ability to leverage and use work through an integrated network of intellectual property offices.”
“The launch of the CPC constitutes a significant breakthrough in efforts to achieve greater harmonisation in the patent system at international level”, said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. “It is a major step forward on the path to improved efficiency in the patent system for the benefit of the global economy, and key to securing effective patent protection through a quality-based patent system. The work accomplished in a very short period by the project teams and patent examiners of both offices deserves the recognition of the entire intellectual property community.”
Since October 2010, the USPTO and EPO have worked jointly to develop the CPC system, which includes approximately 250,000 classification symbols based on the International Patent Classification (IPC) system thus enabling examiners and patent users worldwide to conduct searches by accessing the same classified patent document collections. CPC will lead to more efficient prior art searches and enhance efficiency through work-sharing initiatives designed to reduce unnecessary duplication of work.
CPC definitions containing a thorough description of the technical subject-matter covered will be provided for every CPC subclass and regularly updated. Distance learning will be made available to users in early 2013.